POWERFUL SYMBOL IN THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD


This bracelet recently sold for $67,000, primarily for its antique value. But if you were like Miriam’s friend, Phoebe, you might believe its impact extended beyond beauty and flamboyance to grant you protection and good fortune. In the ancient Mediterranean world, snakes symbolized both benevolent and malevolent powers. They symbolized the fertility of Isis but the doom of Troy. They were healers in the cult of Aesclepius but also links to the Underworld.

In the Miriam bat Isaac stories, we can infer that Phoebe wears snake bracelets to be fashionable. Here’s how Miriam describes her best friend’s appearance in The Deadliest Sport:

Nowadays Phoebe dresses in a Chinese silk or Spanish linen tunica interior that along its lower edge sports an instita, a wide (and her case, deeply embroidered and voluminous) ornamental flounce. Over that, she wears a stola, the married woman’s traditional boxy outer garment, the hem of hers barely brushing the top of her instita so she can flaunt this latest Roman style. And, in keeping with her status as the wife of a successful shopkeeper, she adorns herself with necklaces, amulets, and pendants; a few snake bracelets; a brooch; and one or two massive rings, each studded with gems.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be wealthy or fashionable to flaunt a copy of The Deadliest Sport. And you don’t even have to leave your home to get it. Just click here.

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